May 18. 2024. 3:48

The Daily

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Albanian opposition faction registers coalition for local elections

Following a set of legal setbacks, Sali Berisha, the leader of one faction of the divided Democratic Party (PD) announced he will join with former president Ilir Meta for the upcoming local elections, formally registering with the country’s electoral commission at the eleventh hour.

At a Wednesday PD group meeting, Berisha said the coalition will defeat the Socialist Party which holds almost all municipalities as the PD boycotted the last local elections in 2019.

“In the coming hours, the opposition finalises the powerful coalition with which it gives Edi Rama and his monism the fatal blow on May 14…Because today, every citizen, every democrat, must commit and do everything for the victory of the opposition and the defeat of Edi Rama,” he said.

The Freedom Party submitted a request to the Central Election Commission to be registered as a coalition with Berisha’s faction, the Christian Democratic Party, Balli Kombetar and the PBDNJ, under the name “Together we Win”.

“The coalition will include the entire right-wing spectrum as a political coalition. The broad coalition will be multi-party. It will be based on the electoral record. We will emerge victorious,” said Berisha.

The centre-right PD, an associate member of the European People’s Party (EPP), split into two groups in 2021 after the expulsion of Berisha by at-the-time chairman Lulzim Basha after the former was sanctioned by the US State Department and then the UK.

A tense standoff followed, with both Berisha and Basha trying to take leadership of the party, which led to a violent protest at the party headquarters on 8 January 2022.

Basha ultimately resigned after being badly defeated in local by-elections, and Berisha assumed the role of chairman, after which a court of first instance ruled that his takeover was legal, a decision that has now been overturned.

Tirana’s Court of Appeals overturned this week an earlier court decision that recognised Berisha as its legal leader, sending the case for reconsideration at a later date and causing uncertainty just two months before local elections.

But while Basha resigned publicly, it has come to light he did not submit an official resignation to the party registry and instead, three days before he resigned in March 2021, he signed authorisation to delegate his competencies to deputies of the party, Enkelejd Alibeaj, Endrit Sefa, and Gazment Bardhi, for the 2023 elections.

The deputies then submitted documents to the election commission to register the PD as an electoral subject but the commission said it does not recognise the authorisation and only Basha could submit such documents.

The unresolved legal wrangling left Berisha with little choice but to join the coalition like he did in the 2022 general elections.

Meanwhile, Rama convened his parliamentary group to discuss the upcoming elections. He confirmed that the list of candidates for mayors throughout the country is all but finalised.

“More or less, in general terms, we know who will be the team of mayors”, he said.